Malankara Orthodox Church In USA
- Brief history of immigration
Since the 19th century Indians started migrating to different countries and has established communities almost every part of the world. Indian immigrants started reaching United States in very few numbers in the beginning of the 19th century and the numbers increased and established many communities starting 20th century. Presently close to two millions of Indian origins are settled in United States and nearly half of them holding United States Citizenship. In the beginning majority of the Indian immigrants came to United States as skilled workers. Later on the number of immigrants increased as a result of changes in the immigration laws. The laws passed by the US Congress in 1923, 1965, and the increased number of immigrants allowed as of changes in the immigration law in 1990 paved way for more Indians to immigrate to United States. US congress implement laws that changes immigration process periodically, which affects the flow of immigrants from other countries. United States is also facing issues regarding undocumented migrants whose numbers are increasing alarmingly in the last fifty years. A joint letter of the Catholic Bishops of United States and Mexico titled "Strangers No Longer" in 2003 had an impact on policy making regarding immigration laws in United States. The letter broadly spoke about the migration to United States, but the implications are mainly for the undocumented migrants. The letter also serves as recommendations for the policy makers in implementing the immigration laws regarding undocumented migrants.
United States Immigration and religion
Since immigration was legally approved by the US congress, people of different color and religions have been migrating to America from different continents. This has made America a home for different cultures and religions. Freedom of individual rights based on democratic principles in US has granted the immigrants to keep their culture and practice the religion as they choose or inherit. The principle of assimilation happens mostly through intermarriages of people belonging to different religions and origins or through generations. Most religions establish norms and regulations to keep its followers binding together, but rather through assimilation and cultural adaptations inter religious marriages and changing of religions happens in the civilized culture. America has been well known in the outside world as a place of melting pot where all individuals and different cultures from different countries embrace a common culture that makes the disparities in different groups to disappear as years go by. Involving in religious practice has been considered by sociologists as a part of assimilation into the main stream of the US culture. Religion has been known to provide assistance and support to migrants during the process of settlement in the new land. Many studies proved the involvement of religions in the process of assimilation. Religion is a mediator between the migrant and the community. Researches in migrant studies proved that immigrants change their religious behavior during the process of assimilation, but not the religion.
Malankara Orthodox Christians in United States
Baptists, Catholic, Jews and Orthodox (Russian and Ukrainian) are the four major Christian groups in United States. Compared to the two millions of Indians in United States, Malankara Orthodox Christians are a minority group. The history of Malankara Orthodox Christians in United States starts from the middle of twentieth century. In the beginning the orthodox churches in United States were under the Metropolitan of the Bombay Diocese. Due to the increase in number of the faithful, a diocese for America was established. In 1979, H. G. Mathews Mar Makarios was appointed as the bishop of American Diocese. Under the leadership of Late H. G. Mathews Mar Makarios, Orthodox churches in United States experienced a tremendous growth. In 1993, H. G. Mathews Mar Barnabas was appointed as the Metropolitan of the American Diocese. In 2009, American Diocese was divided into the North East American Diocese and the South West American Diocese. Presently H. G. Zachariah Mar Nicholovos and H. G. Alexios Mar Eusebios serve as the Metropolitans of Northeast American Diocese and South West American diocese, respectively. The Malankara Orthodox Church has more than ninety parishes and more than three thousand families in the United States of America. Malankara Orthodox Christians immigration to US can be considered as a congregation based sample as described in certain immigration studies. This implies that the Malankara Orthodox Christians directly become a member of Malankara Orthodox church in US immediately after immigration. Not many studies are done among such samples about changing religions during or after the assimilation process. Malankara Orthodox Church has proven a novel example of setting up communities and Parishes in US when compared to other immigrated minority communities in US. Promoting unity among the members in parishes and the unification of small parishes may lay the foundation for stronger diocese in US. It is the hope of the Malankara Orthodox Church in US that the generation will rise up to the moment, and will keep the identity and culture that our forefathers granted us through generations.
Shabu Varghese, Tampa, Florida